Spidey #10 continues the comfortable continuity that has been building throughout the series as writer Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman bring Captain America in for a visit. Cap’s appearance provides a sounding board for Spidey and some natural exposition for Thompson to intelligently compare and contrast the two characters.
The pacing is good, as has been the case throughout the series. Having Spider-Man team up with another hero helps that quite a bit, as the action can engulf the duo or unfold in front of them. Thompson elects to unfold, giving Spidey #10 space to bring readers up to speed on Spidey’s dilemma of the issue, introduce Captain America, and bring on the bad guys. Cap shares some advice, the two heroes discuss philosophy, and Spider-Man tries to get some tips from the Sentinel of Liberty.
All in all, the story is safe, but fun, self-contained and welcoming. Thompson gives readers everything they need in these twenty pages, but rewards returning readers with snips of subplots and ongoing universe-building. Thompson keeps the universe-building low-key, making Spidey #10 character-first all the way.
Nathan Stockman is a solid match for this title, just as Nick Bradshaw was to launch it. More reserved than Bradshaw’s art, Stockman, like Thompson, gives readers everything they need. There are additional bits throughout that add layers of fan interest to Spidey #10, but the focus throughout is Spider-Man. His art is imaginative, with the two heroes giving Stockman a grand chance to exhibit a range in physique and motion. Captain America isn’t going to move like Spidey and he’s not going to not move like Spidey either. Stockman makes that evident from the first panel with both characters on page at the same time. Not only is there a considerable age difference between these icons, but there is a respectable difference in body type. As true as his Spider-Man is in spirit to Steve Ditko’s work, Stockman’s Captain America is evocative of some of the most memorable artists to handle the character, including John Buscema, John Byrne, Ron Garney, and Mike Zeck.
Captain America has a more accessible face for expressions, giving Stockman ample opportunity to balance the more restrictive access Spider-Man’s full mask provides. Spidey does have expressive eyes, which work well for all ages Spider-Man, and leads the way in constructing a bridge between what readers may have seen in other media and Spidey in comics.
Snazzy colors from Jim Campbell stay natural to the tale, with saturated bursts in synch with the story beats and conflict. The colorist keeps the skies over New York blue and even manages to separate the skies from the variations in blue between the costumes of the two heroes. When the villain of the piece shows up, Campbell’s palette expands, but does so with secondary colors, adding energy and uncertainty to a stable tale beforehand. Letterer Travis Lanham rounds out the visuals nicely, keeping Stockman’s art clean. Of course Thompson’s script helps in that regard, but all the same, Lanham makes his mark upon the visuals without marking them up.
Spidey #10 is another grand example of what all ages and new-reader friendly comic can and should be in the Marvel Universe. I’m not sure of the distribution for this title, but I do know that I enjoy it month in and month out. Thompson is selecting bits of the Marvel Universe to explore in each issue of Spidey, and Spidey #10 is guaranteed to light up readers’ faces. Next issue appears to return to the solo Spidey tale, but that’s OK. There’s a nice variety of options for Thompson, Stockman, Campbell, and Lanham to present now that they’ve shown us this series works both as a Spider-Man title and a Marvel Team-Up surrogate.